Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 12, 2005
By Jay Thomas
After being as high as 12.1 percent in October, the unemployment rate in Butler County continues to fall, as reported by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations.
Preliminary figures for Butler County’s overall unemployment rate for December which came in at 8.6 percent, showed a slight decrease from November’s revised rate of 9.5 percent ranking Butler County in the number thirteen spot in unemployment in Alabama. In Dec. 2004 Butler County’s unemployment rate was 10.2 percent.
One person who is pleased with those results is Carol Lee, executive director of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce.
She said the strong economic news of recent years is coming to fruition in the form of lower employment and stronger local businesses.
&uot;From the numbers, we are finally seeing the influx of new jobs in the area,&uot; Lee said.
&uot;As the new companies move toward full production, more people are either going to work or are returning to the workforce.&uot;
She said despite negative predictions about Greenville’s future, things continue to look optimistic.
&uot;Despite the naysayers’ predictions, the Greenville area has not lost any of its existing businesses and that has helped I’m sure,&uot; Lee said. &uot;In fact, many of our local companies have gone through expansions and renovations in the last several months and have added additional employees.&uot;
&uot;From economic indicators, we should continue to see growth in our area and that will mean more people are working.
From the local economic standpoint, more people working, means local businesses will do even better.&uot;
Another person pleased with the news of lower unemployment is Janice Grayson, manager of the Alabama State Employment Service.
She said with the operations at Hyundai increasing, the Tier One plants are also revving up their production.
&uot;The Tier One plants are hiring and the unemployment rate is coming down,&uot; she said. &uot;This is a good thing because our unemployment rate had gotten really up there.
It looked like would continue to climb.
I feel confident we will continue to see improvements. I think it’s looking good now.&uot;
Grayson said the rate is still a little on the high side but that when all the new companies are fully operational, it could be possible to see an unemployment rate down to 4 to 5 percent.
That would bring the county more inline with the rest of the state. Alabama’s overall unemployment rate held somewhat steady in December at 5.4 percent. Wilcox County had the highest rate of unemployment at 15.2 percent while Shelby County had the lowest rate of unemployment at 2 percent.
Neighboring counties also saw their unemployment rates decline with Lowndes County falling to 11.7 percent from 12.4 percent in Nov. and Conecuh County’s unemployment dropping to 6.2 percent from 6.9 percent in Nov. However, Crenshaw County’s unemployment rose from 6.9 percent in Nov. to 8.8 percent in Dec.
The number of non-agricultural workers in Butler County also rose dramatically over Dec. 2004 with 450 non-agricultural jobs being added year over year. That ranked Butler County third in the state in non-agricultural jobs added with Talladega County adding the most non-agricultural jobs with 1,190 and Pike County adding 880.